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Tinder Plus charges older people more | #tinder | #pof | romancescams | #scams


Need to know

  • Our mystery shop of Tinder Plus found one subscriber can be charged up to five times as much as another, with older people charged more
  • An expert in anti-discrimination law says this is direct discrimination based on age, and may be illegal
  • We found price variations within age groups that suggest Tinder is using other, unknown factors to further personalise its prices

Allan Candelore had a problem with Tinder Plus prices, and made it known. He sued the company behind the dating app for discrimination. It was 2015.

In a California trial court, Tinder argued there was no problem. The company was charging users over the age of 30 twice as much for its premium service than for users under 30, it said, because younger people are “more budget-constrained”.

Tinder argued that Allan’s case should be dismissed because age-based pricing wasn’t arbitrary, unlawful or unfair, and didn’t suggest “irrational, invidious stereotypes”. The court agreed. 

But Allan, who was in the older cohort and had paid more for Tinder Plus, still sensed an injustice. His lawyers set out to prove it.

The price isn’t right

In 2015, Tinder was already an international phenomenon. The free app allowed users to browse the profiles of other users in their area and reject or connect with them in one fell swipe of a finger – to the right to start chatting, to the left to pass. 

That year, the company launched Tinder Plus, which had extra features such as the ability to undo swipes and look for matches in other areas. The cost to unlock these features? For users below the age of 30, $US9.99. For users over 30, $US19.99.

Lawsuits followed in California, where the company is based. People were upset to learn that their age could come with a surcharge. 

Age-old debates 

In 2018, Allan’s case went before an appeals court. This time, the judges ruled in his favour, invoking California civil rights law: customers had to be treated as individuals rather than as members of a group based on attributes such as gender, race or age. 

They noted rulings that upheld differences in treatment based on age: higher interest rates on bank deposits for seniors, cheaper movie tickets for children. The justification: social policies that match, such as retirement for the elderly and restrictions on child employment.

But Tinder’s pricing model, they said, for which the price point changed at age 30, amounted to prohibited arbitrary discrimination.

Tinder had the highest worldwide consumer spend of all non-gaming phone apps in 2019, beating Netflix

The judge who wrote the ruling pointed out that Tinder’s argument could be used to justify “higher prices for all consumers 30 and older in even the most essential areas of commerce – such as grocery shopping, gasoline purchases, etc. – even in instances where an individual did not in fact enjoy the economic advantages that are presumed about his or her age group”. 

Tinder argued that the decision was misguided. In an appeal to the California Supreme Court, the company wrote that its pricing model was benign, and that the ruling “will have far-reaching and negative economic consequences both for young people trying to find their financial footing and for a wide variety of businesses and organisations serving young people”. 

Furthermore, it said, the decision “imperils a host of common discounts for young adults never before thought to be suspect – from young?lawyer fee discounts in bar associations to college?student discounts for movie tickets”.

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